Oct. 22, 2012
Freshman Kendall Howen joins the Texas Women's Cross Country team following an impressive high school career. The four-year letterwinner at Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas, earned five team Most Valuable Player honors during her high school cross country and track & field career. Howen was a two-time finalist for the UIL Cross Country State Championships, finishing top-10 as a senior, and was also a 3200-meter state finalist during her sophomore track campaign.
A standout among Texas' talented freshman class, the Dallas native is one of just two freshmen who will compete for the Longhorns in Saturday's Big 12 Cross Country Championships in Austin.
Howen recently sat down with TexasSports.com to talk about learning lessons as a freshman and adjusting to life as a UT student-athlete.
What made you want to come to The University of Texas?
The biggest thing was the energy. After visiting, I felt at home and that this program would be somewhere I could excel. Also, the type of training that is done here fits me perfectly. There are lots of long aerobic, steady base workouts. That is similar to what I did in high school, so the transition was easier for me.
What have been the biggest things you have learned thus far as a freshman?
In your opinion, what is the best thing about cross country?
I have learned to consider cross country more of a team sport. Going into the Big 12 conference meet, everyone wants to run their best for each other. Also, I've learned how to run in a pack. In high school, I never really had that. I had to adjust to having a lot of people around me in training and competition. It is a great thing to stay with the pack but it is also very difficult. I have also learned how to handle myself in tough situations, especially last weekend at Pre-Nationals when everyone's nerves were high. It was a great experience to see how our group of upperclassmen handled the pressures of competing in a big meet at the collegiate level.
What I really like about cross country is that it is a friendly sport. We all want to beat each other for sure, but after the race you can give the person next to you a high-five and talk about the race. Runners are the friendliest people. You can be battling with someone on the track then when the race is over you are friends.
What is the hardest thing about the sport?
Staying disciplined. It takes a lot of discipline to get up every morning to run like you are supposed to. You also have to stay disciplined in areas other than training, like monitoring what you eat, getting enough sleep and staying focused. It takes discipline to balance being both a college student and a collegiate athlete.
I am in the process of learning to balance everything but along the way, it has been nice to have teammates to rely on. The other freshmen help because they going through the same thing and the upperclassmen help because they have already been through it all. [Coach] Steve also helps because he is understanding and willing to adjust if we have academic demands.
Do you feel like you have settled in after running in a couple meets?
The first race I did not know what to do, but as I competed in more meets I have been able to adjust. I have figured out ways to deal and embrace it. At Pre-Nationals, for the first time I really enjoyed being around so many people as opposed to hating it the first time around. I approached it differently. The first race, I did not expect it to feel that way, so before Pre-Nationals I focused on how I was going to react to my surroundings and using it to my advantage. I was focused on using the people around me.
What is your favorite place to go on a leisure run?
In Austin, I really like to run on Town Lake. It's really pretty and the surfaces are soft. Really, it is so nice to be in such a fit city. Everyone is really active. At six in the morning, it is comforting to see other runners up and working out. And I also love seeing all the dogs!
Rapid Fire with Kendall Howen:
Band you wish you could have seen if you had gone to ACL? I really wanted to see Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Black Keys.
Road trip necessity? Judge, my teddy bear. He's getting a little ragged, but I cannot go anywhere on the road without Judgey Bear.
Your most quotable movie? Probably Bridesmaids, I watch that one a lot.
Your Halloween costume plan? A few of the cross country girls think we should go as Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Tex Mex or Barbecue? Definitely Barbecue! I will eat Tex Mex but I am not a huge fan of it. My mom says it's because she ate a ton of it while she was pregnant with me, so she thinks I am burnt out on it.